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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Ryder Cup not over despite Europe fightback, warns Thomas Bjorn

European captain says teammates need to put their heads down quickly as they head to Day 2 with 5-3 lead

Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn has called for calm after a stupendous performance on Day 1. Reuters
Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn has called for calm after a stupendous performance on Day 1. Reuters

Europe battled back to lead the Ryder Cup entering Saturday's second day of competition thanks to an unprecedented foursomes sweep of defending champions the United States, yet European captain Thomas Bjorn warns the trophy fight is far from over.

Europe seized a 5-3 lead after Friday's opening fourball and foursomes sessions at Le Golf National thanks to four romps in the afternoon foursomes, the Americans unable to last past the 16th hole.

"It was great but we need to put our heads back on quickly," Bjorn said. "There's no time to celebrate. There's still a job to be done."

Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari of Italy, winless in five prior Ryder Cup matches, paired with English rookie Tommy Fleetwood to beat Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed 3 and 1 in fourballs and the duo then ripped Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth 5 and 4 to complete the historic foursomes sweep.

"We didn't come here to win the foursomes," Molinari said. "We came here to win something else."

Molinari will join Fleetwood for a Saturday fourballs rematch against Woods and Reed, who sat out Saturday afternoon.

US captain Jim Furyk dismissed fears of back problems for Woods, saying: "I'd have to say that's not true. He was actually out practising after the matches. I'm not aware of anything like that."

Woods, the star attraction after ending a five-year win drought last weekend, liked his shotmaking.

"My game is fine," he said. "My putting feels solid. I'll be ready come tomorrow."

Other Saturday morning match-ups, all featuring US duos trying to repeat Friday wins, send four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia against three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm against Spieth and Thomas and Englishmen Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton against world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

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Read more on Ryder Cup:

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Rory McIlroy vows to maintain calmer approach at 2018 competition

Poulter aims to rekindle past glories and fire Europe to title success

Likely pairings: From Rose and Stenson to Woods and DeChambeau

How to watch the Ryder Cup in UAE: Complete guide to Europe v US

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Francesco Molinari, left, will rejoin Tommy Fleetwood for a Saturday fourballs rematch against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. EPA
Francesco Molinari, left, will rejoin Tommy Fleetwood for a Saturday fourballs rematch against Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. EPA

'Event still pretty young'

"We refocus and look forward to tomorrow," Bjorn said. "I've also been around long enough to know it could swing around again."

Europe need 14 1/2 points from Saturday and Sunday's 12 concluding singles matches to win for the ninth time in 12 attempts and reclaim the Cup while the Americans need 14 to retain the trophy.

Europe's charge came after the US squad seized a 3-1 lead after morning fourballs, the best American result in an opening session in Europe since 1989.

"They wanted to go out and prove something," Bjorn said. "That says something about the group."

The Americans are trying to end a 25-year European win drought and see plenty of time to reverse their situation.

"The event is still pretty young," Furyk said. "Eight out of 28 points, a pretty small percentage of this thing being played.

"Our guys, I think they will respond. I really do. We'll come back tomorrow and I think we'll be firing."

The sweep added fire to Europe's hopes with one of their greatest Ryder Cup sessions ever.

"It's hard to say it's not right at the top," Bjorn said. "It is right at the top when you clean sweep. It's something pretty special to all the guys on that golf course."

It was important to Furyk as well.

"The afternoon going 4-0 is significant," he said. "We will figure out the afternoon for tomorrow and try and do better.

"We're two down with 20 points left. There's time. We'll see how it goes and try to put ourselves in position."